Essex ‘grow the game’ conference proves inspirational

Essex conference

Golf clubs from all over Essex got together at their first county conference to discuss ways of growing the game.

The Essex Golf Conference, at Langdon Hills Golf Club near Upminster, was the idea of County President, Mike Hart, who told delegates: “We need to work together to solve the problems of declining membership in our clubs and find ways to reverse the trend.”

The event – which featured key speakers including David Joy, the Chief Executive of England Golf – was attended by about two-thirds of the county’s clubs, represented by 100 delegates, and it proved inspirational.

Bradley Smith of North Weald Golf Club summed up when he said: “I would like to think I am forward thinking and do promote the game to all categories already.

“However I left the conference thinking ‘Can I do what I am already doing better? and the answer is ‘Yes’. I also came away with various ideas which we will be slowly introducing to our marketing campaign.”

Delegates heard from three speakers who shared their different experiences and offered advice on ways to recruit and retain members. They were: PGA Master Professional Alan Walker, whose Garon Park Golf Complex at Southend won the 2013 title of GolfMark Club of the Year; Simon Sheppard, PGA professional and Director of Golf at Bishop’s Stortford Golf Club, a private members’ club; and from Paul Densham, Director of Golf Operations at Essendon Golf Club, a proprietary club.

England Golf, supported by local and national partners, is aiming to create more players, more members and stronger clubs, through its strategic plan, Raising our Game. David Joy spoke of the importance of a vision and an end goal when making changes. He highlighted the information available to clubs on the England Golf website.

The conference also included a workshop session to spark ideas about improving profits and attracting and retaining members. This was organised by the Essex Golf Partnership, which offers all clubs in the county advice and support to grow the game.

The conference was organised by the Essex Golf Union, with the support of the Essex Ladies’ County Golf Association and the County Golf Partnership.

Caption: Essex President Mike Hart (second left) with (from left) Alan Walker, Simon Sheppard and Paul Densham.